By now everyone knows that Apple isn’t too fond of Bitcoin. The company has removed every single Bitcoin wallet application from the iOS App Store, with Blockchain being the last one. The reason for Apple’s anti-Bitcoin stance isn’t entirely clear. It’s possible that Apple doesn’t want to deal with the legal issues of a currency whose regulatory status is unclear and inconsistent in most countries. For instance, when Coinbase was removed from the App Store, Apple’s reasoning was that apps must “comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users.” On the other hand, conspiracy theorists claim that Apple wants to have its own “iMoney” digital payments system, and wants to eliminate the competition – Bitcoin. However, it’s not like Bitcoin-related apps aren’t available on the App Store. Just searching for “bitcoin” returns 242 results, though almost all of them are price tickers. It just seems like any app that deals with Bitcoin transactions is frowned upon, with Pinterest rival Fancy being the latest casualty.
Back in January, Fancy began accepting Bitcoin payments for its “crowd-curated catalog of amazing goods.” Fancy isn’t like Amazon with millions of products to choose from. Instead, the site features a much smaller selection of unique products that interest the community. Just over a month after accepting Bitcoin, Fancy’s iOS and Android apps were updated to supported Bitcoin payments, which were done through Coinbase. But just one week later, the app was updated to “[remove] Bitcoin per Apple’s request”. The Android app remains unaffected.
After hearing this news, many were quick to bash Apple for various reasons. Some claimed that this is another example of Apple’s tightly-controlled, walled-garden approach to iOS. However, this argument doesn’t really make sense. The closed platform approach was designed to prevent users from unintentionally bricking their devices, which is one of the reasons iOS is so popular. Even the most technologically illiterate people can use iOS with ease. Having Bitcoin as an optional payment system within certain apps should be ok with the current App Store guidelines, because users who don’t know what Bitcoin is would simply ignore the option and go for the traditional credit card payment route.
Another argument is that Apple hates Bitcoin because it can’t make any money off of Bitcoin transactions. While it’s true that Apple takes a 30% cut in In-App Purchases, many apps such as Amazon just rely on manual credit card entry, which bypasses the Apple tax. Furthermore, apps such as Square Register and Square Wallet allow users to make and accept credit card payments without Apple taking any cut in the transaction. So the fact that Bitcoin payments don’t make Apple any money seems like another invalid argument, since many apps that deal with credit card transactions also don’t make Apple any money.
It’s difficult to really pinpoint Apple’s rationale here, since Bitcoin payments wouldn’t harm the company in any way. But it seems like Apple has chosen to side with traditional payment methods for the time being.